The occupation is over!
Judges and other state Supreme Court employees moved their cars back to their refurbished parking lot in Columbus Park on Wednesday morning, three months after seizing a pedestrian walkway at the northern end of the park as a temporary lot.
Construction crews installed an entrance into the judge’s original parking lot near the corner of Joralemon and Adams streets — itself part of Columbus Park — so that the jurists could drive directly into the lot from Joralemon Street instead of driving on a bluestone-tiled pedestrian pathway and using it as an overflow lot.
During the occupation, the city fenced off what had been a pedestrian-only area and barred the public from walking from Borough Hall and the state Supreme Court building toward the General Post Office and other points north.
Acting Administrative Judge Abe Gerges said on Wednesday that he happy that his judges could move into their new lot, particularly because it resolves his security concerns.
“Everybody’s satisfied,” he said. “There is an issue of security. And we are back in our secure facilities.”
Park goers and pedestrians were overjoyed to have their space back. One couple, goaded by a Brooklyn Paper photographer, even recreated Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famous photo from V-J Day in 1945.
“I’m happy — I thought it was going to be taken away from us forever,” said a Downtown resident, Samuel Valley.
“It was annoying to inconvenience the public so the judges can have an easier commute,” added a DUMBO resident named Matt.
The area wasn’t supposed to be a parking lot at all — it is actually zoned as parkland. Office workers, residents and pedestrians need the open space more than the judges need it for parking, park advocates said.
When the city was building a new courthouse nearby in 1999, then–Administrative Judge Michael Pesce told community leaders that his judges would park in a new lot inside that building. That never happened, however.
— with Zeke Faux